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Hi,

I built my first layout two years ago with the help of this forum (thanks). It’s 300 feet long and in the Sacramento area. I only run remote control trains. I used a form of DG for road bead and after two years, much needs replaced. I didn’t spray any glue/water mix on to the roadbed and that may be my problem. Not only are portions looking bad but more importantly it’s leading to cars coming off the track.

Now that I’m forced to make repairs, I was wondering if a more permanent solution is available. I was considering putting in 4” of concrete and placing the track in the wet concrete. I remember seeing this in an old book I had but I’ve since given it away. This seems like once it dries (assuming the track was laid correctly), no more derailments. Or should it just be free floating on top of the concrete to account for rail growth in the heat?

I could also buy some of the plastic road bed and set that in the concrete and then attach the tracks to it?

In short, what can I do to minimize future track maintenance and avoid trains coming off the track?

Thanks
 

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The concrete roadbed is good. Do not embed the ties in the concrete. Let the ties set on top of it after it is dry. It needs to be able to float a little to allow for rail expansion.

What part of Sacramento?
 

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Hi,

I read your ladder article it it’s somewhat like the commercial system that’s available. Unfortunately I live in Rocklin and the name starts with “rock” for a reason. It would be very difficult to dig very deep and the current rail road follows that natural terrain so elevating and building up would be difficult. That’s why I’m leaning towards the concrete. Perhaps a little of both would also work.
 

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crushed stone seems to work ok, it's not maintenance free but nothing is. Crushed stone is cheap and you can change your mind later. Just remove the track, vacuum up the ballast and lay the track in it's new route and reballast. You can ballast right on the ground without digging. Lay out your track the way that you want it, the raise it up on small piles of ballast set about 18" apart and do a coarse adjustment of the grade. Then pour ballast right through the rails and form it up to the top of the ties. Form a flat section about a half inch beyond the end of each tie and let the rest slope back to ground level.


To keep the gravel from washing away in the rain, heavily spray the sloped sides with 50/50 TiteBond II or TiteBond III and water. The ballast between the ties SHOULD NOT be glued. The track will squirm around in the ballast and some portions will require releveling every few months, but this is not a difficult or time consuming task.

If you place your track on concrete, which also works well BTW, then DO NOT ATTACH it to the concrete, it will need to squirm, especially in your summer heat. You are probably not subject to frost heave which means that the base doesn't have to be buried below the frost line, 3 or 4" thick will be enough. Concrete is stable but with that stability comes inflexibility. If you are SURE that your track is in the right place and you won't want to move it, then concrete works well.

I have a mixture of both systems, each has advantages and disadvantages. The portions laid on concrete (in this case on top of a wall made from 4" wide concrete blocks or on a brick patio) stay level better but are NOT adjustable. Also, the track on top of concrete will collect wind blown dirt and organics that can get under the track and start to lift it. You'll have to wash/blow this stuff out to re-level the track. Make sure that your concrete base is level to start with.

With concrete, you can also make it look more like ballast by forming a sloping side in the concrete and then embedding crush stone into the sides while before the concrete has set up.
 

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Like any RR you need to maintain it. You can not just run it and forget it. It's like one to one RR they do not just lay track and forget about it. There are are many types of ways to build a layout. Any type of system that you use will require some type of maintenance believe it or not. Just bite the bullet and redo and correct the track work. It's already down probably will not take much to correct. Or spend the buck to make a prefect system. Later RJD
 

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I have used concrete road bed from the get go. My road bed is about 3.5 inches wide and a bout 2 to 3 inches deep. When I lay the forms I make sure they are either level or at a 2% grade. I also level then side to side.
Once I have the forms correct I put in the rebarl. I then pour the concrete. Since it is all level I never have to touch it again after it dries. I put my tracs down I anchor them prox every 3 feet.

I put my ballast in a cement mixer dry and add dry porland cement I mis it well. Then I put the mixture in a 5 gal bucket. I ballast my track as usual. After everything is in place I wet it. it dries hard.

95 % of the time the ballast will stay of course not everything is perfect. Some times I have to re ballast some areas. But I do not have to re level.

Changing is not really all that difficult. I do it all the time.
 

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Back in 2000-2001 when I built the original SCLCo, I cut the roadbed from 3/4" pressure treated plywood much like one would cut indoor roadbed in the smaller scales. Much of it just set directly on the ground and the dirt filled in at the sides to roadbed level. Grades were supported with 2 x 2 stakes (cut from pressure treated 2 x 4s with one end sharpened to a 4-sided point) driven into the ground and the plywood roadbed secured with drywall screws. Malibu 14ga outdoor lighting cable was attached to the underside of the plywood roadbed to supply track power. Track was secured to the roadbed via screws through the ties at intervals.

Ballast was crushed granite held in place with 50-50 Titebond II and water.

That original railroad was ripped out in 2005, though it still exists via photos on my web site. The roadbed and stakes were in just as good of condition when I tore it out after five years as they were when I installed them. While this method may not work in most sections of the country, I'm in the Bay Area, and frost heave, snow, heavy rain, and other environmental extremes don't apply. I would think this method would work equally well in the Sacramento area, though temps get hotter there and track expansion may be more of an issue for you than it was for me.

If you take the roadbed idea, and follow George's advice (above) for securing track with ballast instead of screws, I'd think you'd be in fine shape.
 

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My first railroad was 2x6 cedar boards. That lasted about 18 years on the ground. Sence I've went to the ladder
 

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Personally depends on where your at and how long you plan to stay with your RR. I have used concrete roadbed 3" wide X 2" deep with a single 3/8" rebar. I used to float the track on it, but in the past few years started removing all screws from under the ties and screwing the ties down. that allows the rail to exspand yet keep its shape. I also have exspantion joints home made every 20ft or so depending on need. I also use black dye in my roadbed so during the rainy season the ballast may wash off but still looks fine.
Concrete roadbed is more important on fill dirt than on non-fill areas. plus it sheads water so no frst heave problems. But you have created a dike thus you need colverts and bridges to drain the water.
The only true maintains FREE roadbed is indoors.
I have tried gluing the ballast but over time it becomes like patato chips and is a bigger mess. than simply using your ballast spreader to dress it back up.

And its easy to change out or add to.
BTY
If you don't care about ballast, then concrete is very little if any maintance. They use it at Fair Plex CA
 

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Has anyone tried Fat Mud and possibly mixing chicken grit with the surface of it? Mixing with a compound called Anti-Hydro would produce a concrete that's seriously water-resistant and therefore not as suseceptable to cracking from frost and freezing. There's also Deck Mud (for shower pans) that would work well in this application. Then again, mixing the proper ratios of chicken grit, concrete and an Anti-Hydro mixture would possibly produce a better result. Just throwing a few ideas out as I'm headed in this direction as well.
 

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I have had my RR for 5 years now. Every bit of the roadbed is concrete. As long as you get it right from the start you will never have any problems. I use LGB track. I "glue" my track to the concrete roadbed with GE Silicon II silicon caulking. I fill the inside of a tie with it every 6 inches or so and then weigh it down with a brick to hold it in place for 24 hours until it dries. The silicon rubber caulk will stick to the ties and the concrete yet since it is rubber it will let the track and ties move just a bit. All of my track has been in the 120 degree Arizona sun and the 30 degree cold for 5 years without any problems.
 

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On the shop layout, I found it a little troublesome when ballast got under the track and made a bump. I think RCP and JJ have good ideas about fastening the track to the concrete, then the ballast is just decorative and won't be getting under the track.
 
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